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These Storied Walls

The New Century

The announcement in May 2001 that Rev. Judy would be moved to Pleasant Grove UMC in the Charlotte District came as a surprise to both Rev. Judy and his successor, Rev. James Bowen. Rev. Bowen had not expected to move and was equally surprised to find himself assigned to serve the Mt. Olivet congregation. Rev. Bowen and his talented wife Debbie quickly found their way into the hearts of the congregation, however, as he began to identify and meet needs of both the church and its individual members.

An ad hoc committee was appointed to investigate plans for the renovation and expansion of an aging Memorial Hall. Under the chairmanship of Bill Ford, the committee met with architect Dennis Yates to develop plans that could be submitted to the congregation for approval. Due to the unsettled economy, however, including the threatened closure of the Pillowtex plant in Kannapolis, the congregation rejected the $500,000.00 expansion program by a vote of 45-85 at a congregational meeting on 16 March 2003.

Mt. Olivet begins a third century of service with pride in its accomplishments of the past, and filled with the spirit of service for the future. Plans are underway to continue and strengthen ministries and missions both locally and world-wide. Stirring musical and revival services have invigorated the church, as has the infusion of new leaders in many vital areas. A re-vitalized Youth program has Mt. Olivet’s young people involved in annual ski trips, the Crop Walk, Halloween parties, Duke University Youth Day, Swim Parties, Scavenger Hunts, food collections, and a myriad of other activities. Scott and Kristen Rodgers, Matthew and Cheri Hopkins, and Brian and Vicki Ford lead the Youth, while Meredith Spry and Jeanne Zentmeyer co-chair Children’s Ministries. The outstanding Scouting program continues with Lonnie Coggins as Scouts Coordinator, Chad Drye as Troop 34 Scoutmaster, and Cubmaster Gina Benson leading the Tiger Cubs, Cub Scouts, and Webelos. Lynn Raymond is the Troop Committee Chairperson. In the Girl Scout program, Kimberly Martin is leader of Brownie Troop 122, Bambi Hart guides Cadet Troop 315, Sherry Fisher is Daisy Troop 1138 leader, and Patty Murray is Junior Troop leader.

The traditional strong emphasis on missions continues. In 2002, Mt. Olivet continued to support CCM, CVAN, the New Hope Community Mission, the Society of St. Andrews, Habitat for Humanity, and many other programs. The reorganized United Methodist Men support the Scouting program and the Children’s Home, provide Christmas “treat bags,” and welcome the community to Memorial Hall for a post-Easter Sunrise Service breakfast. The United Methodist Women are active in all areas of church life, raising funds for foreign missions and local good works through their annual Fall Bazaar, and sponsoring an annual Mission Study in February. The Circles also engage in fund-raising projects, such as catering meals, in addition to providing interesting programs and opportunities for individual spiritual growth. The XYZ Club has provided “Extra Years of Zest” for its members since 1974.

The church is widely known for its rich music program. With Chancel Choir Director Ed Fink, organist Mary Iris Isenhour, Donna Childers leading the children and providing accompaniments on the keyboard and piano, and Sandra McBride conducting the Handbell Choir, as well as numerous other talented soloists and musicians in the choral program, the new century promises to be filled with an even more “joyous noise.” Under the capable leadership of Rev. Bowen, moving worship services and special musical numbers symbolize the spirit-filled congregation that is Mt. Olivet as the old church embarks on an exciting third century of stewardship and service.

It has not been possible to record in these few pages the stories of all those ministers and laypersons who have sacrificed and struggled, prayed and persevered, in order to advance the work of this historic church. Perhaps a quote from former pastor Lewis Gibbs says it best:

But it has been a great host of witnesses and faithful followers of our Lord, inspired by His spirit. Thus Mt. Olivet United Methodist Church stands as a memorial to the cause of Christ in this community and His mission throughout the world because of the blessings and love of God upon Mt. Olivet and because multitudes of his children have given response to His call. May God’s blessings continue to rest upon Mt. Olivet and its people, which truly is a great heritage.

Amen.

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